Friday, July 8, 2011

James T. Scott exhibit on display at City Hall

A new exhibit titled "A Voice Silenced: The James Scott Lynching in 1923" is on display at City Hall. The exhibit focuses on James T. Scott, a local African‑American man who was accused of assaulting a young white girl in the spring of 1923. The girl, Regina Almstedt, was the daughter of a German professor at the University of Missouri. Scott was arrested for the crime and put in the county jail. Before he was able to stand trial, a mob broke into his jail cell and marched him through downtown Columbiato be lynched from a bridge on Stewart Road, near Columbia Cemetery.

The exhibit expands a display first created by the State Historical Society of Missouri (SHSMO) for the James T. Scott monument dedication and memorial celebration held April 30. The city invited SHSMO to place the exhibit in the main floor display cases at City Hall through late August.

"The Society was honored to co-endorse the James T. Scott memorial events, and we greatly appreciate sharing this deeply meaningful story with the public at City Hall," said Tom Miller of SHSMO.

Two of the displays focus on the history of the lynching, details from media coverage in 1923 and members of the community who tried to stop the lynching including Hermann Almstedt, the father of the victim, and students from the University of Missouri who were journalists at the Missourian.

A third display highlights the April 30 dedication and memorial celebration arranged by the James T. Scott Monument Committee. The first part of the celebration took place at the Second Missionary Baptist Church with tributes to those who swore to protect Scott's right to a fair trial, including Charles Perry Nutter, Rev. Jonathan Lyle Caston and Dr. Hermann Benjamin Almstedt. Following the tributes at the church, attendees followed funeral procession to Columbia Cemetery where a funeral was held in traditional military style, respecting Scott's membership in the 8th Regiment of the Illinois National Guard, which he joined in 1910. A new headstone to commemorate Scott was provided by the James T. Scott Monument Committee.

The exhibit is located between the lobbies of the Historic Daniel Boone Building and the City Hall addition, at 701 E. Broadway. Lobby hours are 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. The exhibit will be available the evenings of July 18, Aug. 1 and Aug. 15, when the building is open late for City Council meetings.